As a general rule of thumb, use ice for acute injuries or pain, along with inflammation and swelling. Use heat for muscle pain or stiffness.
What’s better for sore muscles hot or cold?
Cold treatment reduces inflammation by decreasing blood flow. Apply within 48 hours after an injury. Heat treatment promotes blood flow and helps muscles relax. Use for chronic pain.
Is a heating pad good for sore muscles?
Use a heating pad or a warm towel to help relieve muscle aches and tension. Be sure not to cause yourself more pain and avoid burns by using a towel between the heating pad and your skin. As with ice, only apply heat for about 20 minutes at a time.
Is heat or ice better for tight muscles?
Heat helps soothe stiff joints and relax muscles. Cold helps numb sharp pain and reduce inflammation. Use temperature therapy to complement meds and self-care.
Does heat make inflammation worse?
Heat can make inflammation significantly worse. Ice can aggravate symptoms of tightness and stiffness; it can also just make any pain worse when it’s unwanted. Both ice and heat are pointless or worse when unwanted: icing when you’re already shivering, or heating when you’re already sweating.
What helps sore muscles fast?
To help relieve muscle soreness, try:
- Gentle stretching.
- Muscle massage.
- Ice to help reduce inflammation .
- Heat to help increase blood flow to your muscles. …
- Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicine, such as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen (brand name: Advil).
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How can I speed up muscle recovery?
Your doctor may recommend the following at-home treatments:
- Rest. Rest the muscle for a few days or until your doctor gives you the okay. …
- Ice. Apply ice to the injury for 20 minutes each hour you’re awake. …
- Compression. Wrapping the muscle with an elastic bandage can help bring down swelling. …
- Elevation. …
- Medication. …
Does heat make sore muscles worse?
When to Use Heat
Heat will make the swelling and pain worse, which is not what you want. You also should not apply heat if your body is already hot — for example, if you’re sweating. It won’t be effective. One of the benefits of heat therapy is that you can apply it for longer than you can use ice.
Does heat make nerve pain worse?
It’s best to use cold when the pain is still sharp and move on to heat once that sharpness has subsided. The heat will increase blood flow and help tissues heal faster.
Should you massage a pulled muscle?
Massage. Therapeutic massage helps loosen tight muscles and increase blood flow to help heal damaged tissues. Applying pressure to the injured muscle tissue also helps remove excess fluid and cellular waste products. A 2012 study found that massage immediately following an injury may even speed strained muscle healing.
Does heat loosen your muscles?
Heat helps reduce muscle pain, stiffness and spasms. It increases the blood flow to soothe the nervous system and relax your joints and muscles. Heat can be used before exercising to loosen up tight muscles. To apply heat, use a heating pad, a hot wet towel or warm shower.
What does icing do to muscles?
Icing an injury typically takes place immediately after the injury occurs. Using a cold compress or ice pack on a strained muscle can decrease inflammation and numb pain in the area. Icing is effective at reducing pain and swelling because the cold constricts blood vessels and decreases circulation to the area.
What happens if you ice for more than 20 minutes?
Greater than 20 minutes of icing can cause reactive vasodilation, or widening, of the vessels as the body tries to make sure the tissues get the blood supply they need. Studies have also shown 30 to 40 minutes in between icing sessions are needed to counter this reaction.
Can a heating pad help with inflammation?
Heat increases blood flow and makes connective tissue more flexible. It temporarily decreases joint stiffness, pain, and muscle spasms. Heat also helps reduce inflammation and the buildup of fluid in tissues (edema).
What happens if you ice too long?
Ice should be applied to an acute injury for 10 minutes at a time. Any longer than this could result in tissue damage to the skin by frostbite or lack of blood flow.